Winning at Knowledge Management: Focus on Value

3 min read
03-Jul-2020 14:30:00

Concept of education and knowledge with tree growing from book-1

Focus on Value is one of the ITIL 4 Guiding Principles and one which IT leaders should keep in mind when planning a knowledge management strategy.


Because an easy-to-access knowledge base that contains just a handful of useful how-to articles (which target end users' most in-demand questions) will deliver more value than a database of 1,000s of artefacts they don't need.

It's all about what knowledge is valuable to your IT customers. It's not about having the biggest Knowledge Management Database (KMDB). If you use Number of Knowledge Artefacts as a KPI, this will drive people to focus on volume over value.

What you measure is what you get.

H. Thomas Johnson, Professor of Business Administration, Portland State University

However, if you measure how often knowledge is used (by giving them a "This helped me" button), you're measuring value as a KPI. You drive people to focus on creating and curating knowledge which is useful (and by association, valuable).

3 Things You can do to Help You Focus on Value

You have to ask: What knowledge do my IT customers really value? To answer to this question, you can do three things:

  1. Engage with your end user community to find out what type of knowledge they need. Often, this means giving them content on how to complete tasks with specific applications. For example, how to create a report or set up a dashboard.
  2. Use data. Mine your historic support data to identify the most frequent issues to the service desk which could be self-solved with a step-by-step knowledge article. By pulling a report of your top 50 or 100 call categories, you should be able to quickly pick out the high-volume issues which can be solved through sharing knowledge. It can be useful to be agile about this and survey your user community to validate this list before you proceed. The more engagement with your end users the better.
  3. Create a feedback loop so that your user community can validate what's useful/valuable. Applying a "This helped me" button and an Amazon-style 5-star rating system will help you see what's being used and give you an indication of the perceived quality of knowledge content.

Usability is a Critical Success Factor (CSF)

Another question you should ask is: How do we connect people with the knowledge they need as quickly as possible?

Helping people access knowledge quickly is a critical part of the equation because knowledge has no value until it is used. If nobody uses your Knowledge Management Systems (KMS), it is nothing but expensive shelf-ware.

Knowledge adoption relies heavily on accessibility, facilitated by a combination of web + mobile access, plus an effective search mechanism which lets them focus in on what they need (and bypass the horrible experience of sifting through pages and pages of results to find what they need). The Customer Experience (CX) is important. If users experience friction when they are searching, they are likely to abandon the self-service channel and pick up the phone to the service desk to get what they need. Measure adoption rates and customer satisfaction (CSAT or NPS) levels so that you can focus improvements and drive an increase in both.

Of course, the processes for knowledge capture and curation are important operational enablers, but these should be driven by demand. When you embrace the ITIL principle of Focus on Value, and use demand as a trigger for knowledge management activity you will get a higher Return on Investment (ROI) from your knowledge management software. versus filling your KMDB with content based on what you have or what you think people want.

In short: Focus on value...and do so by engaging with your end user community so that you truly understand what is valuable to them.


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